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Give more thanks - it’s good for you
Tom Purcell
Tom Purcell

“Thanksgiving is the time of year when we reflect on our incredible blessings, but many Americans aren’t feeling very thankful?”

“That’s what an interesting Harris poll survey conducted a few years ago for American Greetings found. Psychotherapist Amy Morin reported in Forbes that three in five Americans would ‘rather do something else rather than reflect on what they’re thankful for on Thanksgiving.’”

“But we have so much to be thankful for. Our economy is booming. Our standard of living, the world’s best, is improving. Could we so take our blessings for granted that we forget how good we have it?”

“It appears that far too many Americans are doing just that. argues that a typical middle-class American today lives better than billionaire John D. Rockefeller did 100 years ago. As rich as Rockefeller was, he didn’t have air conditioning; sophisticated medicine (my grandfather died in 1937 at age 34 from strep throat because penicillin hadn’t been discovered yet); safe, fast travel; limitless dining and entertainment options; and many other wonderful things that we have.”

“To be sure, 2018 is the best time in history to be alive - and not just for Americans.”

“That’s absolutely true. In Time magazine last year, Bill Gates reported global improvement across several indicators. Childhood deaths fell from 12 million in 1990 to 5 million in 2017. More than 90 percent of children now attend primary school. The proportion of people living in extreme poverty declined from one-third in 1990 to one-tenth in 2017. Gates reported that 2017 was the greatest year in human history, but 2018 has been even better!”

“I get that America has its share of problems and challenges - like every country, it’s a continuous work in progress - but why can’t we kick back on Thanksgiving and be thankful for what we’re doing right? A little gratitude isn’t going to hurt anyone!”

“Science says gratitude is good for us. In another Forbes piece, Morin identifies seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude. For starters, gratitude - showing appreciation - helps us win new friends. Morin writes that ‘whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or you send a quick thank-you note to that co-worker who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.’”

“It certainly feels good to be cordial to and appreciative of strangers!”

“You speak the truth. Science says gratitude improves our physical and psychological health. Simply put, being grateful makes you feel better. It ‘reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret,’ reports Morin. And it enhances our empathy and sensitivity, which helps us understand and sympathize with our fellow human beings!”

“In these divisive times, we could certainly use more empathy toward those with whom we may disagree!”

“Morin reports that grateful people sleep better, have higher self-esteem and enjoy increased mental strength. That makes perfect sense. When you’re grateful, you see, you simply have a better sense of well-being. But when you’re resentful or pessimistic, you’re trapped in the narrowness of your grumpiness.”

“Grumpiness makes me grumpy!”

“It sure does. Look, despite our ongoing challenges and disagreements, we have an incredible bounty to be thankful for. There has never been a better Thanksgiving to show our gratitude, and that’s what we should do because gratitude is good for us!”


Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Send comments to Tom at